Hillary Clinton Says Russia Used Hacking ‘to Great Effect’ in Her Defeat
Hillary Clinton left no doubt on Thursday that she believes Russia contributed to her defeat by interfering in the election, condemning what she called Moscow’s “weaponization of information.”
“I didn’t fully understand how impactful that was,” Mrs. Clinton said at a women’s conference in New York. She said she was convinced that intrusions into Democratic Party leaders’ emails were carried out by Russian hackers under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin and aided by so-called online trolls and social media bots to spread disinformation.
“It is something that Putin has used inside Russia, outside Russia to great effect,” Mrs. Clinton said, and she called for an independent investigation into Russian involvement.
“I’m hopeful that the Congress will pull together and realize that because of the success the Kremlin feels it’s had they’re not going to go away,” Mrs. Clinton said. “So whatever party you are, whatever business you run, whatever concerns you have, if we don’t take action together to hold whoever was involved accountable, they will be back time and time again.”
Mrs. Clinton made the remarks at the Women in the World conference in Manhattan, where she was interviewed by the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof before an audience of about 3,000 people. It was her first extensive interview since her loss in November to Donald J. Trump.
She did not stint on criticism of the Trump White House. “I don’t take any pleasure in seeing the kind of chaotic functioning” of the current administration, Mrs. Clinton said. “Here’s what I don’t understand — I don’t understand the commitment to hurt so many people that this administration, this White House seems to be pursing.”
Women in particular, she said, are under attack by Mr. Trump’s policies.
“The targeting of women — which is what’s going on — is absolutely, beyond any political agenda,” Mrs. Clinton said, pointing in particular to the State Department’s move this week to defund the United Nations Population Fund, among other programs.
She criticized efforts to strip maternity care and other treatments from Republicans’ failed bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “They had not a clue what that meant,” she said. “I don’t know if any of them had ever even read the bill!”
She also noted that it was mostly men who were behind the push to curtail women’s health benefits.
“The things that come out of some of these men’s mouths — like, ‘Why do we have to cover maternity care?’” she said with a laugh. “Well I don’t know, maybe you were dropped by immaculate conception?”
She said Mr. Trump’s two attempts at ordering travel bans aimed at people from a handful of predominantly Muslim countries had “really sent a chilling effect across the world to not just Muslims, but to all kinds of people who said, ‘Wait a second, don’t you still have Lady Liberty in the New York Harbor?’”
Mrs. Clinton, in an unvarnished dig at the president, noted that Mr. Putin “shook my hand” when they met, a reference to Mr. Trump’s failure to shake the hand of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
Mrs. Clinton seemed to dismiss rumors that she would some day run for New York City mayor, saying that while she had a lot of work to do, “I don’t think that will include ever running for office again.”
She was occupied, she said, with the unfinished business of the last century — “the rights and opportunities for women and girls.”
“I think I have a lot to do,” she said.
She said she was puzzled by the fact that she was popular as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, according to polls at the time she left that job, but unpopular as a candidate.
“Well, what happened?” she said. “Oh my gosh, by the time they finished with me, I was Typhoid Mary.”
The difference, she said, was that as secretary, “it was a job that I was asked to do by a man.” As a presidential candidate, she was propelled by her own ambition, a quality, she said, that studies show is seen as unappealing in a woman.
Mrs. Clinton grew particularly forceful in condemning Syria’s recent chemical attack and called for a strong military response to confront President Bashar al-Assad and “take out his airfields.” While no decision has made, there have been reports that the Pentagon is considering airstrikes.
Mrs. Clinton said she was at work on a book that would delve deeply into the events leading up to the election, including the decision by the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to release a letter about the investigation into her emails so close to Election Day.
Her life now?
“As a person, I’m O.K.,” she said. “As an American, I’m very worried.”